Europe is now starting to feel real threats from two aggressors – ISIS/Al Qaeda terrorists and Russian warfare in Ukraine – and it is about high time to find out which values are our most valuable ones, and whether they are worth defending.
As a Norwegian I live on the outskirts of the European culture, geographically speaking, but as early as in 1814 we got the one of the most modern and radical constitutions in Europe, heavily influenced by the US Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution and Montesquieu’s ideas about separation of powers. So, thanks to some brave and intelligent men two hundred years ago, Norway became a part of the modern Western civilization. Its foundation was laid down at Eidsvoll May 17, 1814, and during the two centuries which have passed Norway, together with other nations in the Western world, has strived to develop and improve the society we live in. It is far from perfect, but it is still pretty damn good.
Basic Western values
Our basic values in my opinion are:
- A democratic rule of government: leaders are democratically elected by the people and the separation of powers is complied
- Human rights: freedom of expression and conscience, equality before the law
- International law: respect of every countries’ territorial integrity
- Liberating doubt (B. Russell). The process of politics in the West involves trial and error, open discussion, criticism, and self-correction
- Equal dignity and value on all humanity, regardless of sex, ethnicity, sexual preference
- Humour: an element in our culture which is often underestimated
Are these worth defending, and even fighting for? My answer is simple: yes! After decades of peace and prosperity it is now time for all people in the Western world to try to determine for themselves which are their basic values and if they are worth defending. Our values are now under heavy attack from many directions:
- Extreme islamists have declared war on our values, and are now conducting terror operations on European soil
- China has declared that school books promoting Western values will be prohibited
- Many groups, and even countries, inside Europe are working actively against the values I listed above
- The heaviest attack, though, is now coming from Russia, which is waging a war against its historical neighbour Ukraine, because its citizens have chosen to move away from the Russian sphere of interest and to get closer to the European culture
Of course the Western democratic system is full of flaws and shortcomings. As Churchill put it: “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”.
So what are we up against from Russia? Let us divide the threat into two parts: software and hardware. As far as “software” (ideology) is concerned my answer is simple: nothing. Russia as per today has no ideological core values. The Russian Orthodox Church? No way. Instead of being a spiritual force in promoting the positive elements of the Bible, the ROC is mainly a mafia-like money machine headed by funny looking men who are arming and sending priests to the frontline in Donbas and throwing holy water on an ICBM of the SS-18 type (nicknamed “Satan”).
Putin is longing for the comfort of the old Soviet society, and his “ideologists” Surkov and Dugin are trying to cook together a stew consisting of: 1) Restoration of the greatness of the Russian Empire, 2) Soviet nostalgia, 3) A religious cult of the Patriotic War, 4) the worst elements of the Russian Orthodoxy and 5) a deep and sincere hate of Western (especially American) culture. In this stew extreme left is mixed with extreme right (well, there are no big differences between them anyway), peace-loving is paired with frantic warmongering, solidarity between nationalities goes hand in hand with ethnic hatred and so on.
If there is any core of the ruling class in Russia today it can be described as an aggressive kleptocracy. The KGB/FSB regime have done a huge number of mistakes during the last 12 months, but have decided to continue its tough line, no matter the consequences. So what we must fear is the “hardware” (weapons and soldiers), which is being poured into Ukraine in huge numbers every day. Russia is ready to expand its use of hardware, and the next target (after Mariupol and Kharkiv) may very likely be one of the Baltic states, all of which have chosen the Western model. I consider the Russian propaganda to be “hardware”, since it contains no ideological core, only lies, hatred and manipulation.
Politicians and journalists now have a huge responsibility of informing the European citizens about the threats which are now being posed to the Western culture, and the time has come for people in the West to start reflecting about which values are the dearest to them, and whether they are worth defending. They are. If the West is not able to stand up against this threat they are not.